Zeus-Sabazios

2008bu7217 jpg l

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Acquired in 1910 (the spelunker thinks)

artist
Unknown
attributions_note
bibliography
'Salting Bequest (A. 70 to A. 1029-1910) / Murray Bequest (A. 1030 to A. 1096-1910)'. In: List of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum (Department of Architecture and Sculpture). London: Printed under the Authority of his Majesty's Stationery Office, by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Limited, East Harding Street, EC, p. 97
collection_code
SCP
credit
Bequeathed by George Salting
date_end
0200-12-31
date_start
0175-01-01
date_text
ca. 180-200 (made)
descriptive_line
Bust, ancient Roman, God Zeus-Sabazios, bronze, parcel-gilt, inlaid with silver and niello, ca. 180-200
dimensions
Height: 33.5 cm, Width: 20.5 cm, Depth: 11 cm, Weight: 3.08 kg
edition_number
event_text
exhibition_history
gallery
Medieval and Renaissance, room 64
historical_context_note
This small Roman bust represents the deity Zeus-Sabazius (or Sabazios), the centre of a mystery-cult. The ram was sacred to Zeus-Sabazius as a fertility animal, just as it was to Dionysus, and a ram is depicted on the base of the bust sitting before the goat milked by Pan. Satyrs, like the one shown here, were also associated with fertility, since they were lecherous, chased nymphs, enjoyed wine, and were the attendants of Dionysus (also known as Bacchus), god of wine. Dionysus was represented in the form of a bull or goat - here he is present as the goat being milked by Pan, sandwiched between the fertility of the ram, and the mischevous excess of Pan. By the time of the Renaissance, Pan had become a symbol of evil and wrong-doing, but the ram retained its image as an allegory of manly fertile power. Because of this shared use of the ram by Zeus-Sabazius and Dionysus as an identifying motif in ancient religion, Zeus-Sabazius was sometimes called in later times Dionysus Sabazius. Some ancient authors called him a son of Dionysus, though others variously portray him as a son of Cabeirus, Cronos, Rhea or Cybele. He was also called by some a son of Zeus, by Persephone, who was then reared by the nymph Nyssa. Zeus-Sabazius was worshipped in Phrygia, a country comprising part of the central plateau and western flank of Asia Minor. Europeans conquered Phrygia towards the close of the second millennium BC, thereby bringing the invaders into contact with Phrygian religion and culture, which was merged and absorbed into Greek paganism, and in turn the religion of the Romans, making for a rather vague god of fertility named Zeus-Sabazius. In Roman times Asian Phrygia was administered as a serparate province, and the old Anatolian Phrygian religion, but assimilating outside pagan, and then Judaic and Christian influences, survived into the Byzantine era. The cap that this beared god wears is the classic 'Phrygian cap', more usually assoaicted with slaves, and then in medieval times, peasants and rustics, than mighty gods. It was commonly used to represent poor country folk in South European medieval manuscript illustrations, and other graphic sources. But Zeus-Sabazius also wears a toga, and his beard harks back to the Greek image of a man or god of power and strength. This combination of folk dress and Classical symbols of Olympian power accurately expresses the hybrid nature of this demi-god of fertitlity. Ancient busts such as this one were often displayed on high shelves and formed a focal point of a scholar's study. Humanist Renaissance scholars, most so in Italy, were keen to link themsleves with the intellectual traditions of Greece and Rome, and paint themsleves as the guardians and inheritors of long-forgotten Classical schools of thought, though in fact 'the Ancients' had been always been held in the highest regard right through the entire medieval period, and right across Europe. But Classical heritage and traditions were always stronger and its influence more obviously visible in Italian art than the rest of Christendom. The influence of ancient Roman and Greek traditions on art, architecture, learning, politics and military affairs, costume and even the self-identity of scholars, noblemen and princes, grew stonger, more obvious, more a matter of imitation than homage and regard, and also more sustained and irreversable once the 'Renaissance' unfolded.
historical_significance
history_note
This small Roman bust represents the deity Zeus-Sabazius (or Sabazios), the centre of a mystery-cult. This bust was previously identified as a likeness of the Emperor Commodus. From the Salting bequest.
id
91853
label
Antique bust of Zeus-sabazios About 180-200 Antique busts, displayed on a high shelf, would form the focal point of a Renaissance study. This one portrays an obscure deity worshipped as a god of fertility in Cappadocia and Phrygia (modern Turkey). His head-gear is known as a Phrygian cap, which in Renaissance Italy came to symbolise people from the East. Roman Partially gilded bronze, inlaid with silver and niello (black composition) Museum no. A.581-1910 Salting Bequest [2008]
last_checked
2014-08-30T01:39:16.000Z
last_processed
2014-08-30T01:39:16.000Z
latitude
41.903111
location
Medieval and Renaissance, room 64, case SS3
longitude
12.49576
marks
materials
Silver, bronze, parcel gilt
materials_techniques
Bronze, parcel gilt and inlaid with silver and niello
museum_number
A.581:0, 1-1910
museum_number_token
a5811910
object_number
O118548
object_type
Bust
on_display
1
original_currency
original_price
physical_description
Bronze bust with of a bearded man, Zeus-Sabazios, attached to a decorated moulded base.
place
Rome
primary_image_id
2008BU7217
production_note
production_type
public_access_description
Ancient busts such as this one were often displayed on high shelves and formed a focal point of a scholar's study. Humanist Renaissance scholars, most so in Italy, were keen to link themsleves with the intellectual traditions of Greece and Rome, and paint themsleves as the guardians and inheritors of long-forgotten Classical schools of thought, though in fact 'the Ancients' had been always been held in the highest regard right through the entire medieval period, and right across Europe. But Classical heritage and traditions were always stronger and its influence more obviously visible in Italian art than the rest of Christendom. The influence of ancient Roman and Greek traditions on art, architecture, learning, politics and military affairs, costume and even the self-identity of scholars, noblemen and princes, grew stonger, more obvious, more a matter of imitation than homage and regard, and also more sustained and irreversable once the 'Renaissance' unfolded. This small Roman bust represents the deity Zeus-Sabazius (or Sabazios), the centre of a mystery-cult. This bust was previously identified as a likeness of the Emperor Commodus. His head-gear is known as a Phrygian cap, which in Renaissance Italy came to symbolise people from the East.
related_museum_numbers
rights
3
shape
site_code
VA
slug
zeus-sabazios-bust-unknown
sys_updated
2013-08-17T00:00:00.000Z
techniques
cast, moulding
title
Zeus-Sabazios
updated
vanda_exhibition_history
year_end
200
year_start
175